sharpening {spiritual discipline}

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you and I need someone tangible.

you and i need someone truthful.

you and i need someone today.

in this life we will have friendships, but we must seek out sharpeners.

those who do more than offer a cup of sugar, a ride home, or a birthday card. we need an array of friendships for they brighten the day and help us juggle life. these can come natural and phase in and out with life stages and where we live. sharpening is an intentional approach of coming alongside someone in order to model for them a life worthy of the Gospel. it's saying, "i want to lead you in whatever way i can closer to Christ." it's saying, "tell me what you see with your spiritual eyes that i am blinded to."

i put before us the spiritual discipline of sharpening.

richard foster calls it guidance.

the community of faith has called this accountability for decades.

if you and i were asked, "who's your friend?" we could come up with an answer.

if you and i were asked, "who do you trust more than anyone else in the world?" we could answer that too.

but what if we were asked, "who listens to you, speaks truth to you, and has no ulterior motives in mind except helping you draw closer to Christ?" we'd be right to say our spouse.

but do you surround yourselves with people of the same sex who cheer you on, wanting you to succeed in your marriage, in your career, in your gifts, in your passions, in your pursuit of Christ?

the Book of Proverbs says in 27.17, "iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens one another."

the Hebrews for sharpen is: "sharpen the face of another"

this soars beyond friendship for the world has friends.

this is what God calls us to do for one another in Ecclesiastes 4.9-10,

"two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!"

spiritual disciplines are for me, the method by which i show Christ then others that He is everything to me and i long to know Him more.

we've met here before about retreating and memorizing.

here's how to practice the discipline of sharpening:

this can be formally or informally. i've entered into mentorships and discipleships with other women for a set amount of time or for a certain purpose. yet, sharpening is a lifetime discipline. we've never done being sharpened or sharpening others.

do so in love.

you can do this in three ways:

give and take

I ichat with a friend, meredith, who is in the same life stage with me. we talk weekly and are reading and discussing a book.

this is a give and take kind of sharpening. i have a friend in the public school world that asks often how our boys are thriving or if there are areas where they need strength, focus, or patience. i, in turn, ask about her children.

pouring into others

give others what you've been given.

you take that which God has refined in you, that which you have learned and you don't keep it to yourself. you ask God to show you who needs a tangible truthful today. the first-time mom. the person in small group that you're getting to know. someone with whom you're discovering you have much in common. a new Christ follower.

"Disconnected people can never be whole." {Beth Moore}

being poured into

i have at least four ladies who are steps ahead of me that will call, write, text, talk over coffee with me. they pour into me. they know they do. they have permission to speak frank, to tell me what they see that i might not see. the discipline lies in being humble enough to say, "how am i doing in this area?" "what do you see that needs refining?" and ready and willing to take the answer.

if you have someone in your life who you recognize is doing this for you, call it what it is! speak a blessing to them for what they give to your life through their words and prayers.

more thoughts on the spiritual discipline of sharpening:

Colossians 2.6-7 says, "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving."

keep a list of those you're sharpening and those sharpening you.

keep it balanced. otherwise you're far too empty or far too full.

caution: sharpening can be urgent at times. friendships can beat around the bush, read the facebook post and keep scrolling down. sharpeners lead with grace into a conversation that must be had. those receiving the sharpening must grab hold to Christ and must not lose identity in fear or insecurity, but relish in the discipline.

Additional learning about accountability, Celebration of Discipline, Richard J. Foster

thank those today who are pouring or have poured into you.
balance it with pouring into others.
all of us, you included, by the grace of God, have something to give someone.